‘Teen Titans Go! To the Movies’ review: Saving the superhero genre

If Teen Titans Go!, with its easy-on-the-eyes, superhero-veiled, sitcom-styled hilarity, is Cartoon Network’s child-friendly answer to Friends, then its movie version, wittily titled Teen Titans Go! To the Movies seems to be the prolific kiddie network’s answer to Damien Chazelle’s La La Land (2016), where profound love seems to run counter to Hollywood ambitions.

Movies within the movie

In Teen Titans Go! To the Movies, it isn’t the possibility of love that runs counter to a chance at superstardom. It is camaraderie.

While there’s a sliver of romance somewhere in the film – if one is to acknowledge that the more pronounced concern expressed by Starfire (Hynden Walch) to Robin (Scott Menville) is laced with love – perhaps the film’s target audience is far more concerned with platonic relationships than romantic ones.

The film is sternly rooted in the rapport of the characters with each other, with its comedy coming from the maelstrom of personalities that both clash and complement each other.

BOY WONDER. Robin leads the squad in the movie.

BOY WONDER. Robin leads the squad in the movie.

There are also songs here, though nothing as enduring as the ones in Chazelle’s musical. They’re bouncier and less constrained by good taste.

Directed by Aaron Horvath and Peter Rida Michail, who mostly saw the television series find first its footing in the crowded cartoon market and later its effectively sarcastic vision, the film is a vibrant and colorful bundle of intriguingly clean but biting fun.

There are movies within this movie, and by purposefully centering on a cartoon version of Hollywood's penchant to option each and every superhero, the movie dishes out a very convincing commentary on the state of entertainment. It draws it closer to reality without dropping its frenetic and child-friendly voice. 

SPECIAL APPEARANCE. The members of the Justice League make a special appearance in the movie.

SPECIAL APPEARANCE. The members of the Justice League make a special appearance in the movie.

Light heart and approachable soul

Teen Titans Go! To The Movies is like the little train that could.

It didn’t need to make itself look grander and more worthy of the big screen. The art is the same. The colors are still bold, seemingly without depth. The character designs are still easy on the eyes, bereft of any capability to be anything more than ridicule-worthy alternatives to the dark, dreary and morally conflicted caped crusaders superheroes that populate movies nowadays.

The movie is still a cartoon, despite being clearly longer and having a storyline that is less straightforward.

However, it manages to do much more without having to abandon its very light heart and approachable soul. It is clearly made for children, but there is something in it that would have adults tolerating the bombardment of manic hues and senseless jabber.

Everything gels and it does with a more comforting ease the self-deprecating humor that most Marvel movies excel at simply because of its more irreverent punch.

Sure, it is simple and its twist can be predicted a mile away, but even those criticisms, it gamely acknowledges by plugging the hole with punchlines about them. The film is just awesomely self-aware.

ADVENTURE. Robin and Cyborg team up to stop the bad guys.

ADVENTURE. Robin and Cyborg team up to stop the bad guys.

Burst of fresh air

Teen Titans Go! To The Movies is a burst of fresh air in a genre that is starting to become a tad too serious for its own good.  Rappler.com


Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas' Tirad Pass.

Since then, he's been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.